Vegetarian Soba Noodle Bowl with Tahini-Sesame Dressing


Vegetarian Soba Noodle Bowl with Tahini Sauce

I really like to cook, as I'm sure you've realized by now.  If you haven't, I really hope you're pretty or have another redeeming quality to make up for your lack of common sense.  Anyways, because I like to cook, I tend to make almost all of my meals, and rarely eat out.  That being said, I'm only human and sometimes my hectic schedule leaves me too busy to pack my lunch.  When that happens and I'm at work and H.A.F. (hangry as fuck), I treat myself to my favorite healthy "fast-food": Bibigo.  If you've never heard of Bibigo, its basically like Korean Subway.  They start you off with a "hot stone", a scaulding stone bowl (and a lawsuit waiting to happen).  Then they fill it with either rice or soba noodles, a shit ton of veggies of your choice, protein, a fried egg, and your choice of sauce.  I call them Jesus glory bowls, because those are the only words that can describe the experience of eating one.

Well today I had plenty of time to make myself lunch.  But I really fucking wanted some Bibigo, and no other meal would suffice my hot stone hankering.  So hell, why not make my own?  Sure I don't have a hot stone because I'm not some Korean master chef, but I can certainly throw together something close enough to satisfy my Jesus glory bowl cravings.  

And satisfy did I ever. This delicious bowl hit all the right spots (not in a sexual way).  I cooked up some buckwheat soba noodles, and coated them with a homemade tahini-sesame sauce that created the most magnificent umami flavor.  I tossed some kale with sesame oiland chopped up a few veggies from my fridge, and topped it all with a soft boiled egg.  I know I just said there's nothing sexual about this meal, but I retract that, because there is something so sexy about a cut-open soft boiled egg.  When the yolk oozes out of the egg and into the bowl, its simply magical. Magically delicious (credit: Lucky Charms).

This bowl is super easy to throw together, and can be customizable with your favorite vegetables.  Plus the dressing recipe makes about 4 servings, which means you can make this bowl a couple of times, or use the leftover dressing for another recipe.  Start to finish, this soba noodle bowl took about 15 minutes to make, and about 5 minutes to inhale.  Make this recipe for a taste of Bibigo inside your own home!

Vegetarian Soba Noodle Bowl with Tahini-Sesame Dressing

SERVINGS: 1 large bowl     PREP TIME: 10 mins     COOK TIME: 6 mins     DIFFICULTY: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1 bundle of buckwheat 
  • 1 cup baby kale, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper
Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup tahini (can be found in the ethnic aisle at most supermarkets) 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
Directions:
  1. Cook soba noodles in boiling water according to package directions (approximately 3-4 minutes) and drain.
  2. Bring a small saucepan filled with water to a rolling boil, and place egg in water.  Continue boiling for exactly 6 minutes before removing and rinsing with cool water.  Peel egg and set aside.
  3.  While noodles and eggs are cooking, make dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a mason jar and vigorously shake until combined (or stir in a small bowl).  Dressing cooked noodles with 4 tablespoons of dressing, and reserve 2 more to drizzle on finished bowl.
  4. Massage kale with sesame oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Quickly sautee mushrooms in a skillet over high heat for 1 minute.  
  5. Assemble bowl with noodles first, and then topping with raw peppers, scallions, mushrooms, kale, and egg sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and then cut open the egg to release the yolk.  Serve with reserved dressing.

Adapted from "I Will Not Eat Oysters"  

Indian Lettuce Wrapped Chicken Burgers with Mango Cucumber Raita


Indian Lettuce Wrapped Chicken Burgers with Mango Cucumber Raita

I'm back guys! I'm sure you've noticed that I haven't posted in quite some time (or you haven't noticed because my cooking blog is not the epicenter of your universe for some reason). I was in British Columbia, Canada for the past 10 days, vacationing in a remote cabin lake house with zero internet and phone access.  It was wonderful- lots of water sports, sunbathing, and well-needed relaxation.  But when I arrived back to LA, my body just felt gross.  Now surprisingly I actually ate pretty healthy on my vacation, taking full advantage of the delicious BC produce.  That being said, I was also getting shit-housed drunk most days.  In the words of my boyfriend's mother Linda, "If I drank the way I did at the cabin year-round, I'd be an alcoholic."  Translation:  Blair had fun. But 10 days of beating my liver with a tequila bat can take a toll on a girl's body.  So when I got home, all I could crave was a fresh, clean, and healthful meal.

My solution was to grill up some chicken burgers, but since I tend to eat pretty low-carb, I wrapped them in iceberg lettuce a la In-N-Out's protein style burger.  I also wanted to take a unique twist on this meal, because when I'm eating healthy I never want to sacrifice taste, and chicken burgers can be pretty boring.  I decided to make yet another Indian style mashup, incorporating garam masala and curry powder spices into the burger, making it incredibly flavorful and delicious!  In the place of traditional condiments and toppings like ketchup, mustard, and tomato, I used fresh mango, mint, onion, and a greek yogurt-cucumber raita.  

The end result was wholesome, healthy, taste-bud magic.  These chicken burgers are a crowd pleaser, even for those who normally shy away from Indian food or are religiously bound to the classic all-American bun-encased cheeseburger.  Unlike most chicken burgers, these remained juicy (thanks to breadcrumbs to retain moisture) with a kick of flavor.  The mango provides a dose of sweetness, paired with the cool and refreshing greek yogurt cucumber raita, and just a hint of mint.  The iceberg lettuce wrap and red onion add a textural crunch so yummy you won't miss the buns (which is saying a lot, because I fucking love bread).  

Not only is this meal yummy, nutritious and low calorie (238 calories per burger!), its quick and simple, which is really god damn important after you've been traveling for 5 hours.  With a short list of ingredients and minimal amount of prep work, this recipe makes a great healthy weekday lunch.  The recipe makes four small burgers, which can easily be prepped and grilled Sunday night and paired with a side salad or piece of fruit for quick lunches all week!

Indian Lettuce Wrapped Chicken Burgers with Mango Cucumber Raita 

SERVINGS: 4 burgers     PREP TIME: 5 mins     COOK TIME: 12 mins     DIFFICULTY: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 16 oz. lean ground chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup 0% plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 mango, cubed
  • 1/4 cup mint, minced
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced in strips
  • 4 large leafs iceberg lettuce
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, Panko, egg, garlic, garam masala, curry powder, salt and pepper, and mix until well combined.  Shape mixture into four patties (patties will be quite sticky, this is normal). 
  2. Heat a grill pan or large skillet over medium-high heat, and spray with vegetable oil.  Grill patties for 5-6 minutes on each side, until center is no longer pink and a digital thermometer reads 160 degrees F. 
  3. While patties are grilling, make the raita by combining greek yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, toss together mint and mango.  Set aside.
  5. Assemble burgers by placing one in each lettuce leaf, and topping with cumber raita, red onion slices, and mango.

Nutritional Facts (1 Burger with Toppings): 

Calories: 238, Fat: 4.5g, Carbohydrates: 19.3g, Protein: 31.5g, Sugar: 10.8g

 

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies


Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

As a baker, I make a lot of crazy shit sometimes.  As I've mentioned before, I love experimenting with new recipes, new ingredients, and new flavor combinations.  But as much as I love creativity in food, sometimes there's nothing better than a classic- and what's more classic than a chocolate chip cookie?

There's something really special about chocolate chip cookies.  They're that one dessert that is universally loved by everyone.  You could take a box of chocolate chip cookies anywhere, and they're guaranteed to be gone almost instantaneously.  Even then you'll probably still find someone trying to gather up the broken crumbs at the bottom of the box like a savage cookie-addicted animal.

And can we talk about the dough?  You know a cookie is good when there are literally countless other foods that are based around it. Chocolate chip cookie dough flavored shit is the best.  Cookie dough Pop Tarts, cookie dough ice cream, cookie dough protein bars. They even created cookie dough flavored Oreos- COOKIE DOUGH FLAVORED COOKIES. Chocolate chip cookie dough is addictingly delicious, and causes me to lose all personal self control as a baker.  If a recipe makes 20 cookies, I'll likely only end up with 16 because I ate the rest in dough form.  I'm pretty sure I can recall multiple incidents where I become physically sick from eating so much cookie dough. #accomplishements

That being said, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies are even better than the dough.  Soft, warm, gooey in the center with crisped edges- it is pure delicious simplicity. And with simplicity comes the need for those few elements to be absolutely perfect.  That's why I'm sharing my recipe for the best ever chocolate chip cookies.  The recipe is incredibly simple and easy, but with key steps that produce chocolate chip cookie perfection.  From the melted butter, to the 2:1 combination of brown and white sugar, to the cornstarch, to the dough refrigeration, this recipe will ensure the most delicious, soft, melt-in-your-mouth best chocolate chip cookies ever!  

These massive cookies are perfect when cooled and dipped into a tall glass of cold milk (or YOLO and eat them right off the cookie sheet.  Just try not to burn the shit out of your mouth.  I speak from experience.)

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

SERVINGS: 20 large cookies     PREP TIME: 1 hr     COOK TIME: 12 mins     DIFFICULTY: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • flaked sea salt for topping (optional)
Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together melted butter and sugars for 2 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Beat in vanilla until smooth.
  3. Slowly add flour to wet ingredients in three additions, beating after each addition until dough is smooth and combined. 
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.  Refrigerate dough for at least 45 minutes, or overnight. 
  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, and scoop (preferably with a cookie scooper) rounded balls of dough a little smaller than golf balls.  Make sure that dough balls are several inches apart, as they will spread.  I only baked 6 cookies per sheet.  
  6. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until edges of cookies are browned and middle is still very soft.  The cookies may seem under-baked, but they will set after cooling.  Allow cookies to cool for 10 minutes on sheet before removing and placing on wire rack.  If desired, sprinkle with flaked sea salt.

Enjoy immediately, or store in a tupperware container with a piece of bread to keep cookies soft and moist!  Will keep for up to 5 days.

Coconut Basil Chicken & Garlic Butter Naan


Coconut Basil Chicken & Garlic Naan

Yeah, I made Indian food again- sue me.  However, this time I'm pairing it with fresh grilled homemade garlic naan.  I absolutely love naan, because its literally giant pieces of bread that you get to use as a utensil to scoop up scrumptious Indian food.  The bread itself is fucking delicious- warm, soft and doughy.  I love naan so much that whenever I go to Indian restaurants I typically ask for multiple orders of it because my naan-to-curry ratio is so ridiculous.  And even if I run out of the dish, you better believe I'll eat that shit by itself.  Oh- and ALWAYS garlic naan, none of that plain bullshit (unless you're on a first date.  Then maybe you should pass on the garlic.)

I decided to make my own homemade naan, which is actually incredibly easy!  This recipe doesn't require any yeast, rising, or kneading, and is ready to devour in 20 minutes!  I grilled my naan on a cast iron grill pan to get a bit of that charred, smoky taste, but you can definitely make it in a skillet as well.  The naan is buttery, flavorful and doughy, providing the perfect carb-comfort.  The naan is definitely garlicky, without being overpowering, and is the perfect compliment to the star of the show: coconut basil chicken.

This recipe calls for quite a bit of basil in the sauce, but feel free to use less to compliment your own tastes.  The coconut cream in both the sauce and the basmati rice adds a richness to the dish, which is signature in Indian cooking.  The sauce also features hints of ginger and garlic, to tie in with the naan.  The spiced marinated chicken is incredibly tender and juicy, and adds great depth of flavor.  This coconut basil chicken is the perfect weeknight dinner for two  (or hell, Saturday night dinner for one, no judgement here.)

Coconut Basil Chicken & Garlic Butter Naan

SERVINGS: 2     PREP TIME:  45 mins     COOK TIME:   30 mins     DIFFICULTY: Medium

Ingredients:
Coconut Basil Chicken:
  • 10 oz. chicken breast, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup basmati rice, uncooked
  • 1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 cups basil leaves
  • pinch of salt
Garlic Butter Naan:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together turmeric, garlic powder, salt, and cinnamon. Squeeze have of a lime over chicken breast cubes, and toss with spice mixture.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Cook basmati rice with a pinch of salt according to package directions in a small sauce pan. When rice is finished cooking, stir in 2 tablespoons of coconut milk, and set aside.
  3. To make sauce, combine remaining coconut milk, garlic, ginger, basil leaves, juice of half a lime, and salt in a food processor, and blend until smooth.  Pour into a sauce pan over medium heat and cook until thickened, about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  4. While the chicken is marinating and sauce is cooking, make naan by whisking together flour, baking soda and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.  Add olive oil and greek yogurt, and mix together by hands until a smooth dough forms.  If dough is too try, add a bit of water.  Form into 4 small balls, cover bowl with a kitchen towel, and let rest 10-15 minutes.
  5. Heat a grill plan or skillet over medium heat, and grease with non-stick spray.  Grill chicken cubes for 3-4 minutes until cooked through.  Add chicken to basil sauce. 
  6. Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat, add minced garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Set aside.  
  7. Sprinkle naan balls with cilantro, and roll out naan with rolling pin and flour.  Heat grill pan over medium heat, respraying with non-stick spray.  Grilled naan individuals for 1-2 minutes on each side, until air bubbles appear and naan is browned.  Brush with garlic butter.
  8. To serve, divide rice, chicken and basil sauce between two plates.  Serve each plate with two pieces of garlic butter naan.  

Adapted from 'Bev Cooks'

Lemon, Lavender, & Vanilla Bean Pound Cake


Lemon, Lavender, & Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

One of the reasons I love cooking, and particularly baking, so much is that it acts as an outlet for my creative energy. For me, cooking and baking is like art, a process of putting together individual ingredients to create something that is not only beautiful, but tastes amazing.  Because of this, I am always inclined to experiment with food, trying new and unique ingredients and that go beyond traditional food.  That being said, I'm also fucking poor, and those 'speciality' ingredients ain't cheap.  Okay I'm not that poor, but I am a college student who has bills to pay and mouths to feed (lol my rabbit Pancakes). So buying a $30 tiny jar of saffron at the grocery store to "experiment with"  isn't exactly practical for me.  

Well, I was shopping at Cost Plus World Market with my mother, browsing housewares and wine- you know, white people shit.  If you've never been to Cost Plus, they have an amazing artisan gourmet food section. In those aisles I discovered tons of amazing speciality spices and ingredients for dirt cheap.  I bought a ton of shit.  Like stuff I had no idea what I would do with- but hell, I'll figure it out later.  They had saffron strands for $4.99, Madagascar vanilla beans for $1.99, dried lavender for $1.99, the list goes on and on... If you live near a Cost Plus, please check it out, as its filled with culinary treasures.  If not, no worries because everything is available online as well.  (By the way this is not a Cost Plus World Market paid advertisement.  I just fucking like that store.)

My trip to Cost Plus sparked my creativity, and inspired today's recipe- pound cake with lemon, lavender, and Madagascar vanilla beans! Traditional pound cake is already delicious on its own, but also acts as an amazing base for additional ingredients and flavors.  This cake is dense and amazingly moist, with a lovely lemon-vanilla flavor complimented by subtle floral notes from the lavender. The cake is drizzled with a tangy-sweet citrus glaze, and dusted with lavender sugar.  A slice of this delightful pound cake would be the perfect dainty dessert to pair with a warm cup of tea- enjoy!

Lemon, Lavender, & Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

SERVINGS: 1 loaf     PREP TIME: 25 mins     COOK TIME: 55 mins     DIFFICULTY: Medium

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried lavender
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter milk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degree, and line a 9X5 loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, combine sugar, lavender, and lemon zest.  Cut open the vanilla bean and scrape the flecks inside into the food processor.  Pulse sugar mixture until well blended and dried lavender is chopped.  Set aside 1 tablespoon of mixture for topping
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and remaining lavender sugar with a standing or handheld mixture for about 5-7 minutes, until super light and fluffy.  Beat eggs in one at a time. Set aside.  
  4. In a small bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  In another small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and lemon juice. Too the large bowl with sugar mixture, alternatively add flour and buttermilk, beating until smooth.  
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  If loaf is browning to much, cover with tin foil and continue baking.  Let cool inside pan for at least 20 minutes.
  6. To make the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, milk and lemon juice.  Pour over completely cooled pound cake, and sprinkle with reserved lavender sugar.  Let glaze set before cutting cake into slices.

Cake can be stored in an air tight container for up to 5 days!

Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza


If I had to pick my favorite comfort food of all time, it would hands down be Indian food.  Something about the warm, saucy, and creamy yumminess of Indian dishes just makes you feel good inside.  They also have amazing depths and complexities of flavor, mostly due to the wonderful spices used in Indian cooking.  And if you can't tell by now, I really like spicy shit- a lot.  

Now if I had to choose my second favorite comfort food?  Pizza, obviously.  Why?  Because its fucking cheese and bread- that's why.  Have you ever heard someone say they didn't like pizza?  If you're nodding your head to that question, you my friend, are a liar. No one has ever said that. I don't think there are many absolute truths in this world, but if there is one it's that pizza is a beautiful gift from angels that everyone loves.  Pizza makes up for everything bad in the world. I really haven't met a pizza I didn't like.  I hate when people talk about "bad pizza", because even the worst pizza ever is better than most foods.  That being said, I've pretty much started exclusively ordering my pizza from Domino's, because they provide my with minute-by-minute details on my pizza delivery.  When I order from them, its pretty much guaranteed that I'll be staring at their website for the next 15 minutes until the screen says "Anthony is on his way with your pizza order!"  Even then, I still usually keep looking at the screen, hoping I might get a new update.  I never do.

Well, considering both these foods are the epitome of awesomeness, why not combine the two?  I mean, if Carl's Jr. can make a goddamn hot dog burger, I should be able to make an Indian food-inspired pizza.  I decided to go with chicken tikka masala, which I realize is not a traditional indian dish (originated in London, actually).  But you know what, if I can go to any local Indian restaurant and order it, it's Indian food in my book.  Considering this was a bit of a franken-food experiment, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I have to say, it turned out better than my highest expectations.  This pizza is incredible.

Traditional tomato sauce is replaced with a creamy and spicy tomato curry.  The marinated chicken is tender and flavorful, and the cilantro adds a delicate freshness.  The chicken tikka is laid out on a crispy crust made from fresh pizza dough (which can easily be substituted for store bought dough, or even naan).  Lastly, all of the components are bound together with loads of ooey, gooey, melty mozzarella cheese.  This crazy indian pizza mashup is to die for, and is the ultimate comfort food.  

Toss this pizza in your oven, and you'll definitely be making Papa Jahan proud!

Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza

SERVINGS: 6 huge slices     PREP TIME:  1.5 hrs     COOK TIME: 10 mins     DIFFICULTY: Medium

Ingredients:
Marinade
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz. plain tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pizza:
  • 10 oz. chicken breast, cubed
  • 12 inch homemade pizza dough* (or store-bought refrigerated) 
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 egg white

*Here's a link to my go-to pizza dough recipe http://www.carlsbadcravings.com/perfect-homemade-pizza-crust/

Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients.  Add cubed chicken, toss in mixture, and refrigerate covered for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Heat an oiled grill pan or skillet over medium heat, and grill marinated chicken for 3 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through.  Set aside.  
  3. To make the sauce, melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and sautee until golden and fragrant.  Lower heat and add cumin, paprika, garam masala, and salt.  Continue cooking 2 minutes, stirring often.  Add tomato sauce, yogurt, and cream and stir until mixture has thickened, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, add chicken, and toss to coat.  Remove chicken from sauce with slotted spoon and put in a small bowl.  
  4. Place your rolled out pizza dough on a pizza stone or foil-lined and greased cookie sheet. Spread sauce evenly on dough.  Sprinkle with half of mozzarella cheese.  Scatter chicken over the cheese.  Add remaining cheese, and half of the chopped cilantro.  Brush edges of pizza dough with beaten egg white.
  5. Bake in oven for 8-11 minutes until dough is golden brown and crispy.  Top with remaining cilantro, and cut into 6 large slices.

Adapted from 'Rasa Malaysia'   

Birthday Cake Remix Brownie Bombs


Birthday Cake Remix Brownies

I'm going to put this bluntly.  If you ever decide to make only one recipe from my blog, this is it.  Why?  Because anyone I have ever made these for goes completely apeshit over them.  Let me break this down for you: cake batter cookie dough... wrapped in fudge brownies... covered in milk chocolate... topped with sprinkles.  Yes, it tastes as ridiculous as it sounds.  It is pure gluttonous, over-the-top indulgence that will send your sweet tooth to the ER (in seriously the best way possible).  I get requests for these all of the time, so much so that I'm convinced that half of my friendships are purely based on my ability to make these.  

Ever been to Coldstone's Creamery?  If you haven't, no offense, but you should go have someone run over your foot with their car.  Coldstone's Creamery is like the Jesus of ice-cream shops. I used to go to there a lot as a kid, and aspired to one day be honored with the title of Coldstone's Creamery employee.  I couldn't understand why all of the workers there looked like they were constantly on the verge of self destruction and possibly interested in hawking a loogie in my ice cream.  Then I grew up and realized they were working a shitty job that forced them to sing songs when someone tipped them a nickel, and scoop ice cream until their arms fell off.  To all of you who ever worked for that company, I salute you for your service, and for making the blessed "birthday cake remix" creation that inspired my treats.  That ice cream is the shit (so much so that I never ordered anything else).  Cake batter ice cream with brownies, cake chunks, chocolate sauce, and sprinkles.  And somehow with my god-gifted abilities, I was able to wrap up those flavors into individual chocolate coated balls.  (Hehe balls).

I got a special order for these bad boys from my neighbor Chris for his friend Brandon's birthday.  Brandon was so in love with these the first time he had them, he literally told me he'd back me in a business to sell them (check the proof below).  While I won't be doing that anytime soon, I was happy to remake them for his birthday. I'm not going to lie, making this brownie bombs from start to finish takes a bit of time- but they are so totally worth it.  You'll usually never hear me say this, but for this recipe, I fully encourage using boxed brownie mix over homemade brownies.  This will save you some time and effort in the long run, and will not affect the overall taste of the bombs (especially considering you'll be destroying the brownies once you make them).  Just make sure you get the 13X9 family size box, so you'll have enough brownies.  (Side note: who the hell came up with the description 'family size'? Regardless, since I consider my family to be myself and my rabbit Pancakes, I feel this term justifies him and I eating an entire tray of brownies.)

Okay, to wrap up my rant- make these Jesus-esque brownie bombs.  Like right now. I can say with almost complete certainty your life will be changed.

Birthday Cake Remix Brownie Bombs

SERVINGS: 40 bombs    PREP TIME: 30 mins    TOTAL TIME: 3.5 hrs    DIFFICULTY: Medium

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup boxed yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup rainbow sprinkles, plus more for topping
  • 1 box family size 13X9 fudge brownies, prepared according to directions
  • 1 package milk chocolate CandiQuik 
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate sprinkles (optional)
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars with a standing or hand held mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add milk and vanilla and mix until combined.  Slowly add in flour and yellow cake mix in 3 additions, mixing with each addition, until the dough is smooth.  Stir in sprinkles.

  2.   Line a large cookie sheet or several plates with foil.  Shape the dough into 1 inch diameter balls, making approximately 40 (more or less).  Freeze for 2 hours.

  3. Cut brownies into several 1 inch squares.  Remove balls from freezer.  Flatten each brownie with your hands, and stretch it to cover the cake balls.  (If you end up not having enough brownies, no worries.  You can still chocolate-coat the remaining cake balls without them).

  4. Once all balls have been covered with brownies.  Place a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet.  Melt CandiQuik in microwave according to directions.  Using a a fork, pierce a ball and dip into the chocolate until almost submerged.  Shakes off excess chocolate, and carefully remove balls from fork with fingers, touching the top of the ball that was not coated in chocolate.  Place on wire rack, and immediately top with rainbow sprinkles.  

  5. For an alternative decoration, instead of topping with rainbow sprinkles, "splatter" chocolate coated balls with melted white chocolate (melt in microwave with coconut oil for 5 second increments).  Top with chocolate sprinkles.

These taste amazing both room temperature and refrigerated/frozen!

Adapted from 'The Domestic Rebel'

Nutritional Facts: LOL WHO CARES

Strawberry Pancakes with Vanilla Honey Butter & Kiwi Banana Smoothie


Strawberry Pancakes with Vanilla Honey Butter & Kiwi Banana Smoothie

Wanna hear something crazy?  When I was a kid I didn't really like pancakes.  I know, it makes zero sense.  For one, pancakes are like the most kid friendly food ever- their soft, and buttery and doughy and sugary and sometimes there's even chocolate in them.  It's basically like cake you get to eat for breakfast.  And considering young Blair likely wouldn't turn down eating cake out of a garbage can, the fact that I would turn down breakfast cake is just preposterous.  But it's true.  I was the kid whose parents would take them to IHOP and I'd order cereal.  Seriously.  I'd sit there like a little douce bag eating my box of Frosted Flakes.

Luckily when I got older I came to my senses about the culinary  that is pancakes.  I feel like pancakes are extra special on Sunday mornings, the perfect breakfast to end your week.  I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes for strawberry pancakes that are perfectly light and fluffy.  What really makes them fabulous is the vanilla honey butter, that adds the perfect about of sweetness and richness to the cakes.  

Lastly, I rounded off the meal with one of my favorite smoothies. I'm a big fan of smoothies in the morning, because of how quick and easy they are.  You literally just throw a bunch of shit in a blender and it turns out delicious.  Smoothies are like liquid magic. This one has banana, kiwi, spinach, and almond milk.  Thick, creamy, and 100% yummy.   

Happy Sunday and pleasant pancake eating!

Strawberry Pancakes with Vanilla Honey Butter & Kiwi Banana Smoothie

SERVINGS: 2     PREP TIME: 10 mins     COOK TIME: 10 mins     DIFFICULTY: Easy

Ingredients:
Smoothie:
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 kiwi, frozen
  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 3 Stevia packets
Pancakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1  cup strawberries, diced (plus more for topping)
  • non-stick spray or butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Directions:
  1. To make the smoothie, combine banana, kiwi, spinach, milk, and Stevia in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Divide between two glasses and refrigerate while making pancakes.
  2. For pancakes, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined and lumpy.  Fold in strawberries.
  3. Heat a skillet coated with cooking spray or butter over medium heat.  Spoon batter into skillet, one pancake at a time, and cook each for about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown.  
  4. In a small bowl, mix softened butter, honey, and vanilla.  Set aside.
  5. Stack pancakes and top with strawberries and honey butter.  Enjoy with smoothie.  

 Nutritional Facts: (1 Smoothie)

Calories: 94, Fat: 1.7 g, Carbohydrates: 17.7 g, Protein: 1.2 g, Sugar: 8 g

Sriracha Lime Salmon with Mango & Avocado Salsa


Sriracha Lime Salmon with Mango & Avocado

Yup, it's that time for another healthy recipe!  And the star of this recipe is salmon- the king of all fish, in my opinion. You hear a lot about salmon being a nutritional powerhouse, filled with tons of essential vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein.  But what you don't hear enough about is how god damn delicious it is.  I love salmon, and I feel like we have a really special relationship. When people tell me they don't like salmon, by first reaction is usually to punch them in the tooth and run away.  Thankfully, I have some self control, and instead just curse them under my breath.  How do you not like salmon? It's literally like the butter croissant of the sea.  Rich, soft, and flaky- what's not to love?

Well if you are one of those anti-salmon folks, I beg you to reconsider and to give this beloved fish a second chance.  Not only is this recipe healthy, balanced, and filling, it's quick, easy, and incredibly flavorful.  With a bit of kick from the Sriracha, and some subtle hints of citrus and honey sweetness, the sauce only adds to the salmon's natural decadent flavor. The fatty richness of the perfectly cooked salmon makes you forget for just a moment that you're actually eating healthy. The spice of the fish pairs perfectly with the bright and sweet mango and creamy avocado. Great for an easy weeknight dinner!

So next time someone tells you they hate salmon, feel free to punch them in the tooth, courtesy of me. Or just make them this recipe. 

Sriracha Lime Salmon with Mango & Avocado Salsa

SERVINGS: 1     PREP TIME:  10 mins     COOK TIME: 15 mins     DIFFICULTY: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 4 oz. Atlantic salmon
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 large avocado
  • 1/2 cup mango
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Whisk together honey, Sriracha, lime juice, zest, and salt in a small bow.  Set aside.
  2. Heat a oiled grill pan over medium-high heat, and sear salmon for 1 minute on each side (if you don't have a grill plan, feel free to skip this step.)
  3. Remove the the salmon from heat, and wrap in a foil packet.  Pour Sriracha lime mixture over the salmon, and bake directly on oven rack for 12 minutes.  ( If you skipped the searing step, bake for 15 minutes).
  4. While salmon bakes, combine avocado, mango, lime juice, salt, and red chili flakes in a bowl.  Removed baked salmon from the oven, top with mango avocado salsa and serve.  

Nutritional Facts:

Calories: 395, Fat: 19.7 g, Carbohydrates: 28.3 g, Protein: 27.4 g, Sugar: 23.7 g

Thai Peanut Chicken Wings with Pineapple-Jalapeno Salsa


Thai Peanut Chicken Wings with Pineapple-Jalapeno Salsa

There are a lot of less-than-perfect qualities about myself.  I curse like a sailor, I'm clumsy and uncoordinated, I publicly burp way more than is socially acceptable, and I am- without a doubt- the world's messiest eater.  Like, forreal. I am fully convinced that half the reason I am able to stay slender is because most of the food I eat does not make it to my mouth.  After a meal, I usually look like a baby you let eat spaghetti by itself for the first time. The places I have found food on my body defy the laws of what is scientifically possible of a human while eating. You can usually find me wearing clothing riddled with food stains, dried up oatmeal behind my ear, and a few grains of rice in my hair.  One time I even woke up with melted chocolate in between my cleavage.  True story.

Because of my inability to eat like a civilized human being, if there's one food I should stay away from, it's chicken wings.  But I won't- you know why?  Because my wings are damn delicious, and well worth the inevitable massacre of messiness that ensues after I devour them.  These thai-inspired wings are smothered in a peanut chili sauce, with hints of ginger and coconut. They're topped off with a refreshing and fiery pineapple and jalapeno salsa, rounding off a delicious Asian take on classic hot wings. 

Just make sure to bring plenty of napkins when you chow down on these mouth-watering wings. (Or in my case, a change of clothes).

Thai Peanut Chili Chicken Wings with Pineapple-Jalapeno Salsa

SERVINGS: 15 wings  PREP TIME:  25 mins   COOK TIME: 1 hr  DIFFICULTY: Medium

Ingredients:
  • 15 wings, tips discarded, drumettes and flats separated*
  • 1 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sweet thai chili sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1  cup pineapple, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped

* If you've never separated chicken wings before, here's a great instructional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_66D0UGKvA

Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Set a wire rack inside a foil lined baking sheet.  Toss chicken wings and coconut oil in a large bowl, and spread evenly on wire rack.  Bake wings until skin is crispy, about 45-50 minutes.
  2. While the chicken is coking, make the sauce by whisking coconut milk, peanut butter, chili sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, and brown sugar in a medium bowl until combined.  Set aside.
  3. To make the salsa, add pineapple, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and salt to a small bowl, stirring until combined.  Set aside.
  4. When the chicken has finishing cooking, toss the wings with the peanut-chili sauce until well coated.  Leftover sauce can be served on the side for dipping.  Place wings back on the wire rack and continue cooking 5-10 more minutes until the glaze has caramelized. 
  5. Top the wings with pineapple-jalapeno salsa, and scallions for garnish.  Serve with dipping sauce.

Recipe adapted from 'Half Baked Harvest'

Strawberries N' Creme Greek Yogurt Ice Pops


Strawberries N' Creme Greek Yogurt Ice Pops

I have an addiction.  It's not drugs, it's not gambling- hell, it's not even alcohol.  It's Amazon.  And it's a serious problem. 

About 2 years ago I decided to join Amazon Prime, which includes free two-day shipping, and I never looked back.  I literally order everything off of Amazon- socks, protein powder, cleaning supplies, makeup- you name it, and I've bought it.  It's gotten so bad that I literally wake up to multiple boxes at my door, and have no idea what they are.  It's kind of like Christmas every day, if you happen to buy your Christmas gifts when you're drunk at 2am.  

So why am I talking about Amazon?  Well because one of the mystery gifts I received this week from the Amazon Gods was a popsicle mold!  My mind instantly went racing with ideas for all of the ridiculous popsicle-shaped foods I could now make.

After ultimately deciding to pass on my hot sauce Doritos popsicle idea, I landed on the perfect healthy, hot-summer day treat: strawberry greek yogurt pops!  Using only a handful of ingredients, these simple ice pops turned out wonderfully yummy and refreshing.  The creaminess of the greek yogurt is nicely complimented by the textured graham cracker crumble. Naturally sweetened with strawberries and just a touch of honey, these pops are the perfect nutritious way to satisfy your summer sweet tooth!

So enjoy being able to avoid that creepy ice cream truck by freezing up these delicious ice pops!

Strawberries N' Creme Greek Yogurt Ice Pops

SERVINGS: 10     PREP TIME: 10 mins     FREEZE TIME: 4 hrs     DIFFICULTY: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 16 oz. non-fat plain greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 oz. strawberries, sliced
  • 4 graham cracker sheets, 
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, mix greek yogurt, honey, and vanilla until combined.  
  2. Add half of greek yogurt mixture to a 10-ice pop mold.  Add 1 or 2 slices of strawberries to each pop.  Freeze pops for 15 minutes until greek yogurt is slightly set.
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine remaining greek yogurt and strawberries.  Pour strawberry mixture into the mold.
  4. In a small bowl, combine crushed graham crackers and coconut oil.  Top off the molds with graham cracker mixture.  Put wooden sticks in pops, and freeze for 4 hours.
  5. To remove pops, run under hot water for 10-20 seconds.

Nutritional Facts (1 Ice Pop):

Calories: 101, Fat: 3.4 g, Carbohydrates: 15.4 g, Protein: 5.4 g, Sugars: 11.4 g


Spicy Chicken, Avocado, and Peach Lettuce Cups with Honey-Sriracha Sauce


Spicy Chicken, Avocado, and Peach Lettuce Cups with Honey Sriracha Sauce

One of the most common questions I get asked is how I can bake so many delicious treats and not have Louie Anderson-esque body type that can still fit through doorways. Well you see, aside from the fact that I fatten up my friends, neighbors, and coworkers with my cooking so that I look thin simply by comparison, I'm also a firm believer in a balanced lifestyle, and balance eating. I absolutely love food, and think that life is too short not to treat yourself to the occasional sugary, fatty, carb-ridden indulgence.  That being said, healthy eating is a huge part of my life, and I believe that tasty food can be used not only to satisfy our bodies but to nourish them as well. (Also there's no way I'm going to look like Jessica Alba by eating Twinkies all day long.  So there's that).

So today I'm sharing one of my favorite healthy meals (so much so that I eat it for lunch several times a week): spicy chicken lettuce cups! These lettuce wrapped pockets of delight are low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein and all-delicious. The recipe is also incredibly simple and can be doubled (or quadrupled) and refrigerated with the ingredients prepped and ready to go, for quick and easy meals during the week. 

Most importantly, these lettuce cups are insanely yummy. The sweetness from the peaches and honey balances out the spiciness from the chicken rub and Sriracha, combined with the refreshing tang from the cucumber and greek yogurt-based sauce. There is also quite a bit of textural dimension in the dish, from the tender juiciness of the chicken, to the creamy avocado chunks, all wrapped up with a crisp crunch from the iceberg lettuce.  This deliciously light and fresh summer dish will make both your health and tastebuds happy (and may make you look like Jessica Alba.  Not confirmed yet.  But maybe).

P.S.: WARNING DO NOT EAT LETTUCE CUPS WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE.  MESSINESS WILL ENSUE.  (I speak from experience). 

Spicy Chicken, Avocado, and Peach Lettuce Cups with Honey-Sriracha Sauce

SERVINGS: 1     PREP TIME: 15 mins     COOK TIME: 5 mins     DIFFICULT: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 4 oz. chicken breast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 yellow peach, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 large iceberg lettuce leafs
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons non-fat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon honey
Directions:
  1. Pound chicken breast with mallet until about 1/2 inch even thickness.
  2. In a small bowl, combine salt, paprika, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper.  Sprinkle and rub on both sides of chicken breast.
  3. Heat a skillet on medium heat with non-stick spray, and cook chicken about 2-3 minutes on both sides.  Chicken is done when no longer pink and juices run clear, or when internal temperature measured with a thermometer is 160 degrees. Dice chicken and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine avocado, peach, cucumber, and onion.  Set aside.
  5. To make sauce, mix greek yogurt, Sriracha, and honey in a small bowl until combined. Set aside.
  6. Assemble cups by dividing peach mixture and chicken amongst each of the four lettuce leafs.  Top each cup with a drizzle of the honey Sriracha sauce, and sprinkle with cilantro. 

Nutritional Facts (1 Serving= 4 Lettuce Cups):

Calories: 294, Fat: 9 g, Carbohydrates: 22 g, Protein: 30 g, Sugar: 17 g

  

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

So I've got a confession:  I'm not that into cupcakes. Now wait, wait- before you crazy cupcake freaks start strategically planning my takedown, hear me out.  I'm not saying I don't like cupcakes.  I'm just saying, in a fantasy world where I'm locked in a room filled with desserts (and yes, that's usually how my fantasies pan out), cupcakes probably aren't going to be the first treats I'm cramming down my throat.  

Now all that being said, these ones are an exception to my blasé cupcake ideology.  Why?  Because their god damn amazing.  You see, I love beer- like a lot.  Anytime I get to bake and drink, I'm already a happy girl.  But when I actually get to put my beloved booze into my baking?  Even better!

Now how can I express just how good these cupcakes are?  Well, have you ever heard someone describe food as being "better than sex"?  I always thought that was so stupid. I mean, how the hell can you compare those two things?  And the person saying it is always the last person you want to imagine having sex.  Well anyways, I CAN ACTUALLY PROVE THESE CUPCAKES ARE BETTER THAN SEX.  You see, the last time I made these cupcakes, I had a girlfriend sleeping over at my apartment, and she happened to take someone home that night... I won't get into details, but my girlfriend decides (mid-activity) to stop, go to my kitchen, and eat one of my cupcakes.  I'm not joking.  I only know this because, I woke up at 2am to a strange man yelling "HEY BABE GET BACK HERE," and my girlfriend's voice (muffled by a mouthful of food) responding, "No, I'm eating a cupcake!"  So yeah- my cupcakes are better than sex. At least with that guy.

Anyways, these dude-approved cupcakes have a subtle stout beer flavor that perfectly compliments the chocolate base, creating a rich and moist (sorry if you hate that word) cake. It's topped with a velvety smooth chocolate cream cheese frosting, and are finished off with a sprinkling of sea salt to contrast with the sweetness.   The end result is a beyond decadent cupcake to enjoy with a cold glass of milk, or hell, another beer. So enjoy drinking, baking, eating, and banging (you know, to find out if they're really better than sex).

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

SERVINGS: 12     PREP TIME: 15 mins     COOK TIME: 25 minutes     DIFFICULTY: Medium

Ingredients:
Cupcakes:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 6 oz. Guiness stout beer
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Frosting:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • sea salt for sprinkling
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-muffin pan with liners, and spray with non-stick spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and yogurt. Add beer and vanilla, and whisk until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together cocoa powder, sugar, flour, and baking soda.  Slowly whisk dry ingredients into beer mixture until batter is fully combined.  Whisk in melted butter.
  4. Fill cupcake liners with cupcake batter about 3/4 full, done mess-free by pouring from a bowl or cup with a spout.  Bake for 24-25 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, and tops are set. Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack. 
  5. To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter with a hand of standing mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add cocoa powder and mix until combined.  Slowly add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat until creamy.
  6. Once cupcakes are COMPLETELY cool, frost with cream cheese frosting.  You can use a frosting gun, or use a zip-loc bag with a small hole cut from the corner.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

Best of all, once you finish these cupcakes you'll have five more Guinness beers to polish off!  A dessert that keeps on giving!

Egg-in-a-Hole Sriracha Bacon Burger


Egg-in-a-Hole Sriracha Bacon Burger

There is something so satisfying about making your own burger. I'm not exactly sure what it is- it's almost like when your cooking up your own burger, you're simultaneously freeing yourself from the control that In-N-Out has over your life.  Using your own two hands to form that patty leaves you with a priceless feeling of accomplishment, a feeling that says "screw you In-N-Out.  I don't need you."  (LOL JUST KIDDING I NEED YOU IN-N-OUT PLEASE DON'T EVER LEAVE ME.)

And you know what's one thing In-N-Out can't do?  Put a mo'fuckin egg in the middle of their burger!  Oh yeah, I went there.  You see, I'm a huge believer in eating breakfast foods at all times of the day, and will incorporate them into my meals any chance I get.  So why not a burger?  

With my gluttonous creativity, I decided to cook a soft-boiled egg in the center of my burger, resting on a sourdough roll and topped with crispy bacon and Sriracha aioli.  Although my arteries may beg to differ, this was a fantastic decision.  The breaking of the egg, with the yolk oozing out of the center of the burger may have been the most food porn-esque moment I have ever experienced.  The burger tasted equally as heavenly as it looked, with its rich gooey center contrasted with the crispness of the bacon, the heat from the Sriracha, and all held together by that soft golden roll.  

So next time you've got a hankering for a juicy out-of-this-word burger, express your burger independence and cook one of these bad boys up!

Egg-in-a-Hole Sriracha Bacon Burger

SERVINGS: 1     PREP TIME: 5 mins     COOK TIME: 10 mins     DIFFICULTY: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 2 slices bacon, halved
  • 1 roll of choice, halved
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise 
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha 
  • 6 oz. 80/20% ground chuck beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg
Directions:
  1. In a skillet, fry your bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon and let cool on paper towels, but keep skillet on heat. Reserve the bacon fat, and in the same skillet place halved bun flat side down, toasting until golden brown.  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise and Sriracha.  Set aside.
  3. Hand form your patty using ground chuck beef, and flatten until 1/2 inch thick.  Season both sides of patty with salt and pepper.  Using a small glass (I used a shot glass) cut a hole out of the center of patty.  Discard the center piece (or use it to make a teeny-tiny burger!). 
  4. In the skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat and panfry patty for 2 minutes on one side.  Flip the patty, and crack the egg in the center of burger.  Cover the skillet with a lid and panfry for 3 minutes, until the burger is cooked medium and egg is set. Remove from heat.
  5. Assemble burger, topping with bacon and spreading Sriracha aioli on both roll halves.

Cut burger in half to break egg yolk, or just dive right in mouth first!

Oatmeal Creme Pie Cookies


Oatmeal Creme Pie Cookies

Ah, "Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies," such fond childhood memories of those little individually wrapped packages of glory...  

If you weren't aware already, I was quite the super-chunker as a kid.  Of course, I eventually stopped resembling a child version of a beluga whale  once I realized that Little Debbie snack cakes were not one of the five major food groups.  But still, I look back on my time with those little creme pies like someone might look back on their time with their childhood friends.  Only I imagine you weren't eating your friends. Of if you were, probably not multiple of them in one sitting.

In any case, I thought my oatmeal creme pie-filled days were over, until my friend Kelsey asked if I could bake some of my own for her.  I'm not going to lie, I was a little scared.  I mean, what if I couldn't make Little Debbie proud? (Whoever the hell that is).

Well, after tasting my recreations, I'm happy to say I did my beloved snack cakes justice.  The cookies are chewy with that signature oat-y texture and a hint of cinnamon.  They perfectly sandwich the creamy marshmallow frosting, and are topped with my addition of a milk chocolate drizzle- take that, Debbie!

So next time you want to take a culinary trip down memory lane, whip up a batch of these oatmeal creme pie cookies.  I won't even blame you for pulling a young-Blair and cramming them in your mouth three at a time.  

Oatmeal Creme Pie Cookeis

SERVINGS: 18     PREP TIME: 15 mins     COOK TIME: 30 mins     DIFFICULTY: Medium

Ingredients:
Cookies:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1  cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
Drizzle:
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Filling:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 7 oz. jar Marshmallow Creme
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
Directions:
For cookies:
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars with a hand or standing mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. And egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
  4. With the mixer on low, add flour mixture to wet ingredients, mixing until combined.  Stir in oats.  
  5. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Make sure there is enough space between cookies, as they will spread. Bake each sheet of cookies for 10 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool on sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to wire rack to finish cooling. 
For filling:
  1. In a large bowl, combine butter and marshmallow creme.  Mix on medium until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Slowly add in powdered sugar, alternating with heavy cream as needed.  Mix until completely smooth and desired consistency. 
  3. When cookies are completely cool, sandwich 2-3 tablespoons of filling between cookies.
For drizzle:
  1. Melt chocolate chips and butter in microwave in 15 second increments, stirring after each, until smooth.  Using fork drizzle over each creme pie.  Let chocolate drizzle set before serving.

Feel free to tell people you eat oatmeal for breakfast, then eat these instead!

Cookie Butter Creme Sandwich Cookies


Cookie Butter Creme Sandwich Cookies

There are three ways to a girl's heart: 1) flowers 2) puppies 3) cookie butter.  I have no idea what it is about cookie butter, but girls go ape shit over it.  I am one of those girls.

Cookie butter is basically the drug equivalent of crack for chicks.  I am convinced that the scientists at the Trader Joe's laboratory (because that's how things work) concocted the delightful spread as a way to control the female population. But I digress. 

If you're unfamiliar with cookie butter (I am suspicious of you) it basically is spreadable Speculoos cookies, similar in texture to peanut butter with a gingerbread-like flavor.  Now I will recommend going out and buying as many jars as your bank account will permit.

I never dreamed that anything could beat the taste of plain cookie butter spooned straight from the jar- until I made these cookies.  They're that insane.  The cookies themselves are super soft and pillowy, like a cloud of pure goodness. The smooth and creamy filling makes the treat that much more decadent and addicting.  

Have fun making these cookies, but be warned- you may end up eating the entire batch yourself. 

Cookie Butter Creme Sandwich Cookies

SERVINGS: 16     PREP TIME: 30 mins     COOK TIME: 16 mins     DIFFICULTY: Medium

Ingredients:
Cookies:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup Trader Joe's Cookie Butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Filling:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe's Cookie Butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Directions:
Cookies:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine butter, cookie butter, and sugars.  Beat with a hand or standing mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined.  Set aside.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to cookie butter mixture, and mix on low speed until combined.
  5. Scoop rounded tablespoons  of cookie dough (preferably with a cookie scoop) 2 inches apart onto baking sheets.  Bake for 8 minutes until tops are golden.  Cookies may look slightly under-baked, but will set once cooled.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes on sheets before removing. 
Filling:
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and cookie butter with standing or hand mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Slowly beat in powdered sugar and milk, alternating until you reach the desired consistency.  
  2. Once the cookies are completely cooled, sandwich two cookies with 1-2 tablespoons of creme filling.  

Enjoy immediately or store in sealed container for up to 5 days!

Carne Asada Tacos with Spicy Bacon Rubbed Corn


Carne Asada Tacos with Spicy Bacon Rubbed Corn

You know those girls who go shopping and buy clothes that they don't really want or need just because it was a really good deal?  Yeah, I'm like that with food.  This week I went grocery shopping and  there was a 24 pack of flour tortillas that was really cheap.  Like REALLY cheap.  In retrospect there is no reason why I should have bought this.  For one, I usually make my own flour tortillas because its easy and they taste amazing.  Secondly, what the hell am I going to do with 24 tortillas?  

Well, rational food shopping obviously isn't my strong suit, so I've spent this entire week incorporating tortillas into almost every meal.  It's kind of fun actually- like an episode of 'Top Chef': Tortilla Edition.  

One of my favorite tortilla-ridden meals have been these carne asada tacos. The flavorful and tender carne asada paired with the light and citrusy pineapple-avocado salsa makes it the perfect summer dinner for two. Also: spicy bacon fat rubbed corn on the cob- need I say more?

Carne Asada Tacos with Spicy Bacon Rubbed Corn

SERVINGS: 2     PREP TIME: 1 hr     COOK TIME: 25 mins     DIFFICULTY: MEDIUM

Ingredients:
  • 12 ounces skirt or flank steak
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 ears of corn, husked
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 medium roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 6 small flour tortillas
Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, cumin and salt. Place marinade and steak in a plastic bag, and let marinade in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  While preheating, fry bacon in a skillet until crispy. Reserve the bacon fat, and finely chop the bacon.  Wrap each ear of corn in foil, and drizzle with bacon fat.  Sprinkle with red chili flakes and chopped bacon. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Remove the steak from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil.  Pan fry steak 2-5 minutes on each side until thoroughly cooked, but tender. Let rest 10 minutes before thinly slicing.  Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl toss together avocado, tomato, pineapple, and red onion. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Warm tortillas in oven, and assemble tacos with carne asada and avocado-pineapple salsa. Serve with spicy-bacon corn.
 

Dutch Baby Pancake with Raspberries & Blueberries


Dutch Baby Pancake with Raspberries & Blueberries

I first discovered these scrumptious pancakes was from my boyfriend's mother Linda, who used to make these for her four kids growing up.  I've heard them called many names, from German pancakes, Dutch baby pancakes, oven pancakes, etc.

I took note of the breakfast treat when I saw how pretty and fluffy and airy they looked being pulled out of the oven (yes, they are cooked in the oven, not on the stovetop).  To my delight, they tasted just as scrumptious as they looked.  Light and airy on the outside, with a slight crunch on the edges, and soft and doughy on the inside.  Sweetness is added with fresh fruit and a dusting of powdered sugar.  I used blueberries and raspberries, but the pancakes also taste great with strawberries, apples, peaches, or any fresh fruit you have on hand.

The best part about these pancakes are just how easy they are to throw together!  The fact that they're cooked in the oven means no flipping, no spilling batter, and no constant checking for doneness.  This recipe makes one giant pancake- cut in half for the perfect breakfast for two (or keep whole for one very hungry eater!).

Dutch Baby Pancake with Raspberries & Blueberries

SERVINGS: 1     PREP TIME: 10 mins     COOK TIME: 12-15 mins     DIFFICULTY: EASY

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raspberries and blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flaked coconut 
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Put butter into a 10-inch oven proof skillet, and place in oven while preheating.  

  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, and salt.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add milk and vanilla.  Slowly add egg mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.  

  3. Remove skillet from oven, the butter should be bubbling.  Swirl the butter to coat entire surface of skillet.  Pour batter in the skillet, and top with 1/2 cup of berries.  Reserve the other half.

  4. Bake the pancake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the center is set.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool in skillet for 5 minutes, and top with remaining berries. Sprinkle with coconut and powdered sugar and serve immediately. 


Banana Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Muffins


Banana Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Muffins

I have to say, one of my favorite parts about baking in using food to make people happy... while also getting me out of trouble when I screw up.  Think about- no one is ever mad at the girl who brought you cookies, or in this case, muffins.  These muffins are pretty universally loved, and are a foolproof way of saving your butt the next time you mess up.  

"I'm sorry my rent is late, here's some banana muffins!"

"I'm sorry I forgot your birthday mom, here's some banana muffins!"

"I'm sorry I hit your car, here's some banana muffins!"

Okay, maybe not the last one, but you get my point.  These muffins are amazing, and an all-around crowd pleaser. Super moist, not overly sweet, and completely customizable with add-ins.  I chose coconut, semi-sweet chocolate chunks, and walnuts (because frankly I was trying to clean out my baking pantry), but feel free to throw in your favorites!

So next time you've got some bananas that are past their prime, or need to get back on someone's good side, bake up some of these simple and delicious banana muffins!

Banana Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Muffins

SERVINGS: 18     PREP TIME: 10 mins     COOK TIME: 17-19 mins     DIFFICULTY: EASY

Ingredients
  • I cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 24 muffin pan (or 12 muffin pan, done in two batches) with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, with a hand mixer or standing mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, and beat until combined.  Add mashed bananas and mix on low speed until combined.  Set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt together.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to your banana mixture, stirring only until combined.  Do not over-mix, batter should be lumpy. 

  4. Stir in 3/4 cup of coconut and 3/4 cup of walnuts, reserving 1/4 cup each for topping.

  5. Scoop batter into prepared muffin pan about 3/4 full, which should make about 18 muffins.  Top each muffin with reserved coconut, walnuts, and chocolate chunks.  

  6. Place in over and bake for 5 minutes.  Keeping muffins in the oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking 12-14 minutes.  Muffins are done when tops are brown, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean with a few crumbs.

  7. Allow muffins to cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing, and finish cooling on a wire rack.  

Muffins can be enjoyed immediately, staying fresh for up to 3 days, of frozen for up to 3 months!